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TSE  February 2005

TSE February 2005

Subject:

Re: {SPAM?} Re: 'Academia' and "producing junk"

From:

Vishvesh Obla <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Fri, 25 Feb 2005 12:34:21 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (303 lines)

Dear Nancy,

Please check your computer.  I don’t know why the
‘spam’ tag appears whenever we send mails to our email
Ids through this list.  

I seem to have entirely missed one of your postings on
this subject.  I found it yesterday.  I must have
overlooked it thinking that it was your personal
heated discussion with Peter.  But since it has a
direct reply to my original question, I thought I
should address it.

"Anyone can read and comment and think what they like
(as "anyone" did
with Julius and Seymore-Jones), but it requires
scholarly expertise to
evaluate another's scholarship.”

Cool.  Now when someone makes a statement as
 
“The Bhagavad Gita is not as nice a book as some
Americans think”

the game has taken a different direction from that of
regular literary criticism that you see in all kinds
of 'academic' journals that do not have any value
(ironically) for the generality of mankind today. You
are not talking of a Hamlet or a Macbeth here.  You
are making a comment on a philosophical development of
mankind that has its roots not in the mind of a
literary artist, but of a way of life that evolved
over certain philosophic speculations over a large
period of time.  It is not that it is beyond criticism
since it is associated with God, but that it requires
certain fundamental understanding before one would
venture to comment on it.  I don’t want to get into
the polemics of Hindu Religious revival here, but I
want to make a note that anything that is attempted
today in the name of correcting the many
misunderstandings as associated with Hindu Religion is
construed as Religious Fundamentalism by our false
notions of secularism, religious faith, rationalism
and enlightenment.  Why do you think a dirt mouth as
Wendy wouldn’t have the guts to go for a decent
dialogue with people who are directly associated with
such philosophical belief systems she is found
criticizing?  What do you think an ‘academic’ would
know of a philosophical belief system as the one which
was the fruit of labor of great men who labored for
years for enlightenment and not were her type who are
singularly obsessed with a morbid desire to find 
sexual fantasies in anything they read, and churn it
into 'scholarly' material for a living ?  What do you
mean by ‘scholarly expertise’ here ?  Who is a
‘scholar’ according to you ?  Is it one who can talk
all kind of nonsense in the name of literary criticism
or one who knows the subject well ? 

That an academic could comment on anything she can lay
her hands upon is a statement that is a mockery of the
academy itself.  For, it carries with it an inherent
irony as to what it is capable of today ! 

“Patients may have views of any one doctor, but it
really takes a specialist in brain surgery to know if
another  one is qualified.  "Anyone" may have views on
the privatization of social security, but unless they
know what economists can document on the data and
financial impact, they cannot really "assess" its 
long-term impact.  We all drive cars, but whether they
are really safe in their design takes engineering
knowledge. This dismissal of knowledge is simply
anti-intellectual and silly."

Literary criticism is much broader a term than a
specialized discipline as Medicine,  particularly when
it ventures into areas as belief systems.  It is not
that it is not eligible for that, but that it needs to
be informed when it aims so.  And when it does, it
should be fair enough to hear the other side who had
mastered and live the breath of  such belief systems. 
If it would shut itself down as I showed in the quote
I made in my first posting and as you too seem to
believe,  there is no need for further proof as to
where we are today

- vishvesh 

--- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dear Vishvesh,
> 
> This does not in any way respond to my point.  Yes,
> there should be
> responsibility.  Yes, academics can be fools or make
> mistakes or even be
> shameful.  I have no idea if any of this applies to
> Wendy Doniger.
> 
> But I "hang my head in shame" at demands that anyone
> can control what
> others say.  Think and say whatever you like. 
> Perhaps in your culture
> it is not acceptable to state freely what one
> thinks.  I don't know and
> don't judge.  I often judge ideas and often debate
> them.  In this
> culture, you don't have the prerogative to assert
> what is right and what
> others may not think or say.  It does not matter
> what you think of it.  
>  
> 
> That is academic freedom--the freedom to speak and
> to debate.  "Slander"
> is just your view.  Why don't you state what she
> says is wrong and say
> why?  That would be useful and interesting.  
> 
> But Wendy Doniger--whatever her views--has  no
> responsibility to fit
> your view of anything--only to speak what she has
> come to think true. 
> Her responsibility is to research and analysis, but
> even if her
> conclusions are wrong in your view, your only valid
> response is to show
> why, NOT to say she should not say them.  If you can
> show that her
> research is incomplete or her citations wrong or her
> conclusions
> misguided, show that.  But you have no right to say
> she cannot say it. 
> Neither you nor those who agree with you have
> cornered the market on
> trut, let alone the right to speak.
> 
> It is true some things are vicious--like racism or
> sexism or
> anti-semitism or any discrimination or any praise of
> crime or cruelty. 
> But people say them all the time, and one's
> responsibility is to say
> "No."
> Nancy
> 
> >>> [log in to unmask] 02/23/05 11:12 PM >>>
> Dear Nancy,
> 
> The issue is much complex than just expressing
> anything in the name of academic freedom.  
> 
> Well, accepting the fact that one can express
> oneself
> 'freely', I think it is still a responsibility of
> the
> writer to defend himself/herself and to substantiate
> his/her position when being questioned.  That too
> when
> the writer is from the academia. You cannot write a
> thesis relating a limp phallus to an organ of a God
> revered by millions, or imply oedipal motives
> between
> Gods without inviting the wrath of a group of people
> and then obscure the whole issue by its political
> repercussions.    Freedom of speech is associated
> with
> responsibility and if the academia doesn't realize
> it,
> who else would ? If you can open the first URL I
> made
> a note of and read it, you can understand that she
> doesn't even have a basic understanding of Hindu
> mythology, but still she and her cohorts could write
> books that contain nothing but slander !  I hold my
> head in shame when friends of mine ask me if that is
> what I too learned in the studies of humanities that
> I
> pursued.
> 
> I will make a note again that I am talking here in
> the
> context of the 'academia'.  If  a Salman Rushdie can
> write a blistering comment on Islam, it is one
> thing. 
>  What we gain by reading a writer as him is not my
> concern here.  For that matter, there are thousands
> of
> writers in India itself who can write the worst
> things
> about Hindu Religion and its mythology.  But when an
> academic as Wendy Doniger or her Doctoral cronies
> write the same,  it is a shame for the entire
> academia.  
> 
> --- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > Dear Vishvesh,
> > 
> > First,  I cannot access your URLs.  I tried one
> and
> > went to a site that
> > not only required membership and a password (which
> > of course I do not
> > have) but locked up my screen totally.  So I do
> not
> > know what Wendy
> > Doniger said.
> > 
> > BUT--second--in principle and in fact--it does not
> > matter.  She
> > absolutely does have a right to say whatever she
> > likes, both by academic
> > freedom and by the first amendment.  If it is
> wrong
> > or stupid or
> > ignorant, others have the right and responsibility
> > to show why and argue
> > against it.  Even the arrogant stupidities of
> > Lawrence Summers are not
> > forbidden, just stupid and arrogant.  (yes, yes,
> he
> > was being
> > provocative and academic, etc., but we all know
> that
> > it was once
> > "knowledge" that too much reading would shrivel a
> > woman's womb and that
> > exercise would ruin them--so much for Virginia
> Woolf
> > or Madame Curie or
> > Ada Lovelace or Mary Wollstonecraft or the women
> now
> > presidents of
> > universities and so much for all those women
> Olympic
> > athletes; just
> > amazing how they do it.)  So Doniger may be as
> > ignorant and wrong on
> > Indian culture as Summers is on women's ability at
> > science. (Amazing
> > also how the known fact the women do better on
> tests
> > of verbal ability
> > never stopped Shakespeare or Eliot or any male
> > writer, and no one says
> > they shouldn't get tenure in fields requiring
> verbal
> > skill.) So write a
> > rebuttal.  Show how wrong she is.  Say whatever
> you
> > like. But you are
> > not a self-appointed authority on what she can say
> > and have no right to
> > decide whether she can say it.  NONE.
> > 
> > It is not part of academic work to prevent ideas
> in
> > advance and it is no
> > one's right to shut anyone down in advance. 
> > Her "belief" that she can say anything in the name
> > of academic freedom
> > is precisely true--and in the name of American
> > Constitutional rights. 
> > You can do the same.  
> > 
> > No one in this country has the right of prior
> > restraint on intellectual
> > debate--not even if they think they know better. 
> > And despite current
> > attempts, it is still no one's right to impose any
> > view of religion as
> > beyond discussion.
> > Nancy
> > 
> > >>> [log in to unmask] 02/23/05 8:00 PM >>>
> > Dear Nancy,
> > 
> > I have myself made a few postings earlier on the
> > issue
> > with Ms.Wendy Doniger.  
> > 
> > Ms.Wendy Doniger is a self-appointed authority of
> > Indian culture who believes she can say anything
> in
> > the name of academic freedom.  She and her cohorts
> > have been producing junk after junk on Indian
> > mythology and Culture.    
> > 
> > I will give you two URLs and you judge yourself:
> > 
> 
=== message truncated ===



	
		
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